Cooling your hot horse: to scrape or not to scrape...
Here in Texas, we are having a very wet and cooler than normal summer so far. Unfortunately, while the humidity is going to remain, the heat is ramping up next week. Our horses risk of overheating during exercise is going up with the temperatures.
Keeping our horses cool and healthy continues to be an important topic of conversation this summer, so bear with me if hot weather care seems to be a recurring theme here. And as we know, there is an ongoing debate around whether immediately using a sweat scraper after cold hosing is better than just continually applying water to cool a hot horse.
Hyungsuk Kang, PhD, MS, of the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences in Gatton, and colleagues decided to find out what works best. He presented their findings at the Equine Science Society’s 2021 virtual symposium.
The researchers initially expected both methods, hosing and scraping vs just hosing would have similar results for cooling a hot horse, they were surprised to discover that one method was significantly more effective. And it wasn't scraping.
“There was no cooling effect of scraping following rapid cold-water application,” he said, which indicates heat dissipation by conduction is greater than that of sweat evaporation.
In fact, not scraping and just applying water had a 3 fold greater effect on cooling than hosing and scraping. You can read more about the results and details of the study's parameters at The Horse.
In summary though, the study made clear that hosing and continually adding water using conductive cooling is more effective than creating a quick path to evaporative cooling through hosing and scraping the water off is most efficient way to cool off your horse.
Around here, on hot days, we offer our horses a cooling bath during the hottest part of the day. They seem to appreciate it.